SENATE COMMITTEE ON WATER AND LAND USE

 

 

February 19, 2003†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Hearing Room D

3:00 p.m.†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Tapes 16 - 17

 

MEMBERS PRESENT:†††††††† Sen. Ted Ferrioli, Chair

Sen. Charlie Ringo, Vice-Chair

Sen. Rick Metsger

Sen. Jason Atkinson

 

GUESTS PRESENT:††††††††††††† Sen. Frank Shields

 

STAFF PRESENT:†††††††††††††††† Judith Callens, Committee Administrator

Megan Jensen, Committee Assistant

 

MEASURE/ISSUES HEARD:†††††††††† Informational Meeting

††† 2002 Fire Season Report and 2003 Outlook

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speakerís exact words.For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 16, A

005

Chair Ferrioli

Calls committee meeting to order at 3:12 p.m. and opens informational meeting.

INFORMATIONAL MEETING

††† 2002 Fire Season Report and 2003 Outlook

010

Charlie Stone

Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). Presents an overview of the 2002 fire season (EXHIBIT A). Discusses the national and local fire season experience.

060

Chair Ferrioli

Comments on predicting the location and severity of fires.

065

Stone

Confirms that lightening patterns in the summer help predict where catastrophic fires might start.

100

Chair Ferrioli

Comments on Oregonís participation in cooperative fire fighting agreements with other entities.

108

Stone

Confirms that Oregon provides about 6000 contract firefighters.

110

Chair Ferrioli

Notes that early in the fire season, 5000 contract firefighters were committed elsewhere.

112

Stone

Affirms.

114

Chair Ferrioli

Reiterates that many of Oregonís firefighters were elsewhere when the Biscuit fire started.

120

Stone

Concurs.

123

Chair Ferrioli

Comments that cooperative fire fighting agreements are costly to Oregon.

127

Stone

Continues overview of fire season.

142

Sen. Metsger

Asks how many acres of forestlands burned in Oregon were federal lands.

145

Stone

Responds. Continues discussion of issues surrounding the 2002 fire season in Oregon:

  • Weather conditions
  • Lightening strikes
  • Fire suppression
  • Resources

240

Chair Ferrioli

Asks for clarification on how resources were affected by changes in federal fire management policies.

245

Stone

Explains that there were people available, but because supervisors didnít exist in the ratios dictated by policy, they couldnít always be put to work. Policy allows for flexibility but that flexibility wasnít utilized because of personal liability concerns.

275

Chair Ferrioli

Comments on the national shortage of fireline supervisors.

322

Stone

Talks about the coordination of federal and state agencies to set interagency priorities. Discusses the roles of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Conflagration Act.

380

Sen. Atkinson

Asks about coordination between agencies regarding the Biscuit Fire.

386

Stone

The Multi-Agency Coordination System (MACS) is a coordinating group that does not participate in actual fire suppression but allocatesresources from around the country and sets priorities.

400

Sen. Atkinson

Inquires if MACS makes decisions for northern California.

405

Stone

Replies that each federal or geographic region has its own MACS operation.

408

Sen. Atkinson

Asks who decides where tankers go on an initial fire attack.

410

Stone

Responds that the national MACS in Boise determines priorities nationally and the regional MACS determines local priorities.

TAPE 17, A

002

Sen. Atkinson

Comments that MACS did not work well when addressing the 2002 Biscuit Fire.

015

Roy Woo

ODF Acting Director. Responds and discusses issues surrounding the Biscuit Fire.

047

Stone

Talks about ODFís fire season experience.

087

Chair Ferrioli

Comments on the aggressiveness of building firelines.

090

Stone

Explains a direct attack approach.

097

Chair Ferrioli

Clarifies direct versus indirect attack approaches.

107

Stone

Talks about indirect attack strategies. Discusses the costs and status of fire suppression funds from ODFís 2002 fire season.

140

Sen. Metsger

Inquires whether ODF purchased insurance for the 2003 fire season.

145

Stone

Replies that ODF is in the process of purchasing insurance coverage.

154

Sen. Metsger

Asks what effectthe current budget will have on the price of next seasonís insurance purchase.

158

Stone

States that insurance costs will be higher than in the past.

171

Chair Ferrioli

Comments on insurance policies.

193

Sen. Ringo

Asks if Oregon uses its insurance benefits.

197

Stone

Responds that until last year premiums paid in and claims paid out were equal.

211

Sen. Ringo

Comments on the risks of buying fire prevention insurance.

218

Chair Ferrioli

Asserts that ODF should continue to buy insurance.

230

Woo

Comments on how ODF insurance policies differ from other states.

247

Stone

Talks about firefighting problems observed.

260

Chair Ferrioli

Comments about the ideal conditions for fighting a fire.

275

Stone

Elaborates on staffing policies.

280

Chair Ferrioli

Asks if a fire under 5000 acres qualifies for cooperative funding for cost sharing.

288

Stone

Replies that there is no 5000 acre limit. Continues discussion of fire suppression problems.

295

Chair Ferrioli

Inquires whether a crew is sent home after working eight hours.

299

Stone

Clarifies work policies. States that resources are pulled off attacks due to work hours limits and team transitions are too frequent and disruptive.

357

Chair Ferrioli

Comments on problems with frequent team transitions.

362

Stone

Explains team transition policies. Continues discussing problems surrounding fire fighting policies.

TAPE 16, B

012

Chair Ferrioli

Asks about restrictions on the use of helicopters and bulldozers.

014

Stone

Elaborates on restrictions on equipment use.

016

Sen. Atkinson

Asks if state agencies address the use of bulldozers differently from federal agencies.

023

Woo

Replies that federal agencies seem more reluctant to use bulldozers.

032

Stone

Continues discussing problems with fire fighting policies and courses of action.

075

Stone

Concludes ODF overview of 2002 fire season and discusses the root problems surrounding fire prevention:

  • Fuel conditions
  • Unclear mission and priorities
  • Issues of personal liability

090

Chair Ferrioli

Comments on personal liability issues.

121

Stone

States that ODF acknowledges the importance of addressing liability issues.

140

Chair Ferrioli

Advises that the Bureau of Land Management was invited to the hearing to encourage a collaborative partnership between federal and state agencies for fire control.

152

Stone

States that the fire management system is designed to support large fire management.

165

Chair Ferrioli

Believes that command and control structures should remain in place regionally.

175

Stone

Replies that more people need to be trained to support fire prevention.

185

Sen. Shields

Asks if retired Forest Service fire fighters can return to fight fires if they are needed.

195

Stone

Affirms. Discusses a fundamental shift in the workforce from people with regular day jobs to people whose job is firefighting. Talks about the inability to actively manage national forest lands.

246

Woo

Discusses recent developments in fire management and policy changes.

365

Sen. Atkinson

Comments on the 2002 fire season and the need for state and federal agencies work on fire fighting priorities.

TAPE 17, B

031

Sen. Atkinson

Continues comments on fire fighting policies and the need for coordination between agencies and the public.

051

Woo

Addresses the issue of sustainability of state and federal lands.

062

Chris Sokol

US Timberlands L.L.C. Provides testimony on managing industrial forestland in southern Oregon during the 2002 fire season (EXHIBIT B).

080

Chair Ferrioli

Comments on cooperative agreements with federal agencies.

102

Sokol

Discusses issues surrounding fire suppression policies:

  • Work and rest guidelines
  • Fire fighting efficiency
  • Overhead shortage

190

Sokol

Talks about the gap between federal and ODF firefighting strategies and conflicts in land management values.

240

Lee Miller

Miller Timber Services. Comments on his experiences as a fire fighter and talks about fire prevention policies.

290

Sen. Shields

Asks where Miller Timber Services is located.

294

Miller

Responds his company is based in the Willamette Valley.

300

Sen. Metsger

Asks about the lifespan of white fir in terms of marketable value.

312

Sokol

Replies that white fir will go within two years.

325

Chair Ferrioli

Asks if anyone threatened him while fighting fires on his own private land.

337

Sokol

Responds that he was not personally threatened.

344

Sen. Atkinson

States that a joint memorial on fire management will come to the Senate floor.

393

Sen. Metsger

Comments on federal and state management of forestland protection.

420

Chair Ferrioli

Talks about finding ways to continue a productive partnership with federal agencies. Closes informational meeting and adjourns meeting at 5:00 p.m.

 


EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

A Ė Informational Meeting, ODF, written testimony, Charlie Stone, 15 pp

B Ė Informational Meeting, Forestry, written testimony, Chris Sokol, 3 pp